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John Egan predicts a big future for Republic defender Andrew Omobamidele

John Egan predicts a big future for Republic defender Andrew Omobamidele
The 19-year-old made his senior international debut against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.

John Egan is predicting big things for fledgling Republic of Ireland defender Andrew Omobamidele after seeing him launch his international career in hugely promising style.

The 19-year-old was handed a baptism of fire in last month’s World Cup qualifier with Portugal when he was thrown on as a 36th-minute substitute for the injured Dara O’Shea and played his part in what looked like being a famous victory until Cristiano Ronaldo turned the tables at the death.

Norwich’s Omobamidele did enough at the Estadio Algarve to get the nod from the off against Serbia in Dublin six days later, and once again turned in an assured display to leave team-mate Egan singing his praises ahead of Saturday evening’s showdown with Azerbaijan in Baku.

The 28-year-old Sheffield United defender said: “He’s a fantastic player, a fantastic young man.

“He came in, got his chance and took it with both hands. I thought he was brilliant in the two games.

“For someone so young, he is so composed and the best thing about him is he keeps his head down, works really hard, doesn’t get too ahead of himself. He has a great attitude that will stand him in good stead in his career.”

In between the Portugal and Serbia games, the Republic could only draw 1-1 with the Azeris, ranked 117th in the world, at the Aviva Stadium, and that combination of results ended their qualification hopes with three games still to play.

They have not won a competitive match under new manager Stephen Kenny to date, a run of 12 games, and last tasted victory in a meaningful fixture in June 2019 when they beat Gibraltar under Mick McCarthy.

Ireland are desperate to end that sequence in Baku, but know they can take nothing for granted.

Egan said: “Every game is tough at this level. You have to go out and earn it. The better you play the better chance you have of creating chances.

“Hopefully we can be better than we were last time around and try to find that breakthrough.”

A lack of goals has been the root of Ireland’s problems under Kenny and it is telling that their last three have come from Egan, fellow defender Shane Duffy and an own goal with set-pieces still their most potent weapon despite the more expansive brand of football Kenny wants them to play.

Egan said: “We always want to carry a set-piece threat, it’s a big weapon to have. Irish teams have had it all through the years.

“If you can be a threat from set-pieces, we have always tried to do that. Every time we have a set-piece, we believe we can score.”

Egan said: “We always want to carry a set-piece threat, it’s a big weapon to have. Irish teams have had it all through the years.

“If you can be a threat from set-pieces, we have always tried to do that. Every time we have a set-piece, we believe we can score.”